Roof Trusses by Southwest Truss of Sierra Vista, Arizona: Product Review

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Sierra Vista, Arizona: 2010

The first time I bought roof trusses from Southwest Truss, it didn’t occur to me to write up a product review.

Why not?

Good question. There were almost enough words for a post in the company’s full name alone:

    SOUTHWEST TRUSS

    Structural Component Systems

    A Division of Southwest Home and Hearth Inc.

When I was building the Border Fort in early 2010, it occurred to me that buying commerically manufactured roof trusses would be a really, really good idea if I could find a relatively local company. “Relatively local” included theTucson area. I’d go there if absolutely necessary. Without the needed equipment to press the mending plates into the wood properly, homemade trusses would be a headache to make at best.

Of course, discovering that a Sierra Vista company made them (trusses) would count as a modern day miracle…and sure enough, Southwest Truss had a display ad in the Yellow Pages. Roof and floor trusses, it said. Residential and commercial. New construction and remodeling. Engineering available. Jim Krieski, Manager. Crane service available.

Bingo.

When I sat down with Jim (in 2010), he double checked his engineering reference sources. Yep, low pitch trusses (2 in 12) in 36 foot lengths were within acceptable parameters.

I’m not too sure he was all that impressed with my insistence on the low pitch roof, especially since I’d be topping it with steel roofing and all the “experts” out there say not to combine steel with low pitch. But since he’d be going by the book on the engineering side and it was abundantly clear I was one opinionated customer, he could and would have the guys produce what I wanted.

Amazingly, Southwest Truss charged me just $80 per truss, and they delivered them, too.

Even then, at the very beginning of our business relationship, it was clear to me that this was a mighty fine outfit. Initial satifaction: 100% Buyer’s remorse: 0%.

The trusses were delivered on time, banded in a single stack until I was ready to put them up on top of the walls. Crane service? No, no, never that; I put each truss up alone, by hand. This was the first real test of truss strength; enroute from ground level to wall top, each truss had to rest on its side for a few minutes, enduring “sideways” stresses that trusses were never designed to endure.

They held up despite the abuse.

Once properly erected and secured in place as the centerpieces of the roofing system, they were happy truss-campers.

It’s easy to “see” those trusses even today, too. The Border Fort rafter ends (truss ends) are exposed, covered only with a couple of coats of paint–no fascia board.

They’ve been in place for more than three years now and are clearly doing the job they were designed to do. Outside, the exposed ends still run straight and true from one end of the building to the other. Inside, the heavy strand board ceiling is still perfectly level with no sign of any sagging anywhere.

That was (and is) Experience #1 with roof trusses from Southwest Truss:

1. Personable and competent plant manager, Jim Krieski.

2. Trusses built precisely to specs and delivered on time.

3. Surprisingly affordable pricing.

North side of theBorder Fort: Exposed ends of roof trusses from Southwest Truss of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Three years in, the trusses continue to do their job. So far, so good.

North side of theBorder Fort: Exposed ends of roof trusses from Southwest Truss of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Three years in, the trusses continue to do their job. So far, so good.

Interim

As the months and years go by, we occasionally run into someone who has had dealings with Southwest Truss. Some are contractors, builders of homes and/or commercial buildings, and some are do-it-yourself homeowners.

Impressively, not one of those contacts has ever had a bad thing to say about the company.

“They’re a good outfit!” That’s a typical take on the truss fabricator.

They also, I finally realized, sell quite a variety of wood burning stoves and barbecue grills, even smokers. Would have noticed sooner, no doubt, but the Border Fort is not destined to house a wood burner any time soon. Window space is limited by design, I’m not about to punch a hole in this roof, and besides, Pam is deathly allergic to wood smoke.

Barbecue?

Yeah, maybe. One of these years. But with the fire seasons and high winds we have around here, even a barbecue grill would have to be tended with the utmost intensity…which kind of takes the fun out of the whole idea.

However, we have a seemingly unending parade of potential projects here. This month (May 2013) finds us embroiled (with the temps rising outside, “embroiled” is a pretty accurate term) in not one but two simultaneous building endeavors:

1. A front porch, 7′ x 8′, designed to provide a place to hang wraps and to provide a bit of buffering from the weather, especially during the monsoon months.

2. To one side of the porch, a four-post, roofed “carport” some four feet square and six feet high, under which a bird feeder will hang except when the wind is too fierce and it (the feeder) has to come inside until the storm passes.

Both of these are small projects. The bird feeder station is miniscule.

Hm…. I began to wonder. How well would Southwest Truss do with such really teeny tiny jobs?

A front porch and a bird feeder? I bagan to wonder...how well would Southwest Truss do with such really teeny tiny jobs?

A front porch and a bird feeder? I bagan to wonder…how well would Southwest Truss do with such really teeny tiny jobs?

48 hours

Jim Krieski had to laugh–just a little–when I told him about the bird feeder trusses. Of course, I was already grinning like a fool, egging him on.

For the porch, we’d be needing a total of five trusses, each seven feet in length. Pretty insconsequential in the world of truss fabrication. The bird feeder would only require three trusses, each four feet in length.

He crunched those few numbers. Told me the total cost for all 8 trusses would be $135.

$135. Whoa. Talk about Bargain City!

True, I’d be picking them up. No delivery costs. A little pile of little trusses like that would fit nicely atop the Subaru Outback. In fact, it would be one of the lighter loads the Subie has hauled.

That was impressive enough, but there was more.

The order was placed on Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday afternoon, Jim called me at home.

“You can pick up your trusses any time after 8:00 o’clock tomorrow morning.”

Amazing. in this modern day world, that kind of speed is rare indeed. 48 hour turnaround. Less than 48 hour turnaround.

When I arrived at the Southwest Truss yard this afternoon, both of us were amused when we looked over my “monster order”. . A few chuckles broke through here and there.

He used a forklift to load the trusses on top of the Subaru, but either one of us could have just as easily picked up the bundle and set it up there. Total weight: Seventy pounds, eighty at most.

The four-foot bird feeder station trusses were…precious. With that low pitch design, the bottom, horizonal 2″ x 4″ barely fit at all!

I asked Jim Krieski if he minded having his face out there on the Internet. Told him I’d be writing a review tonight. He was cool with that, knowing it would be a favorable review because I’d already said so.
And now, with the original roof trusses for the house having been in service for a few years, plus the uniformly approving comments by others in the community, plus this week’s order proving that no order is too small for this company to give it professional attention…yes. It was time to write a product review.

How many companies give the smallest order the same sort of attention they give the major accounts?

Not many, in my experience.

After I got home and offloaded the trusses from the Subaru’s rooftop luggage carrier, I started laughing all over again.

Those bird feeder station trusses are just so darned cute!

Summarizing my experience update with Southwest Truss, it went like this:

1. Tiny orders treated with the same professional approach the big guys get.

2. SPEEEEEEED!

3. REALLY affordable pricing.

4. A sense of humor.

Manager Jim Krieski prepares to load the 7' and 4' roof trusses by Southwest Truss atop our Subaru Outback.

Manager Jim Krieski prepares to load the 7′ and 4′ roof trusses by Southwest Truss atop our Subaru Outback.


How Jim Krieski can keep a shirt looking this clean at the end of the workday, I have no idea. It's certainly beyond MY capabilities!

How Jim Krieski can keep a shirt looking this clean at the end of the workday, I have no idea. It’s certainly beyond MY capabilities!


Ready to roll--oh, wait. Better bungee those trusses down first.... NOTE: The Outback sits a bit low in the back due to concrete backs I forgot to unload at home, NOT the trusses.

Ready to roll–oh, wait. Better bungee those trusses down first…. NOTE: The Outback sits a bit low in the back due to concrete backs I forgot to unload at home, NOT the trusses.


The porch and bird feeder station trusses at home. Cute little things, aren't they?

The porch and bird feeder station trusses at home. Cute little things, aren’t they?


  Not much more than a handful of truss. (This photo was taken near sunset to emphasize the homeowner's wrinkled, leathery hide.)


Not much more than a handful of truss. (This photo was taken near sunset to emphasize the homeowner’s wrinkled, leathery hide.)

There’s no doubt about it: Roof trusses from Southwest Truss (of Sierra Vista, Arizona) get a full FIVE STAR rating.

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